The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) briefed the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and the Select Committee on Security and Justice, sitting together in a joint meeting, on the rollout plan and funding for the Border Management Authority (BMA).
The BMA was working with the Project Management Office and all other stakeholders to fast track the operationalisation of BMA. Until 31 March 2023, BMA will be incubated within the DHA as one of its branches. The BMA’s logo was developed with the support of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and approved in October 2021. Consultations are underway with the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition regarding the registration and protection of the logo. Uniform specifications for the BMA were finalised in June 2021. The 2021/22 budget for the BMA amounts to R120 million and excludes the budgets to be transferred to the BMA from other government departments, which run individual operations at the country’s border posts because the multi-agency approach was not successful. The BMA’s budget from National Treasury and Additional Allocated Funds will increase to R141.52 million in the 2022/23 financial year, and R163.35 million in the 2023/24 financial year. According to BMA’s blueprint, the Estimated Expenditure on the Compensation of Employees will amount to R2.97 billion, and Goods and Services will amount to R5.28 billion for the BMA to be fully operational.
The joint committee commended the entity for the progress made towards its operationalisation. Committee Members raised concerns and questions about managing traffic congestions, which normally happened at South Africa’s ports of entry, specifically for freight trucks. Members noted the importance of the BMA building solid relationships with its counterparts in countries neighbouring South Africa’s borders. Members also noted concern about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small businesses, and urged the BMA to source its uniforms from local manufacturers. The Committee asked for an update on the envisaged complement of the BMA, when it is fully operationalised, and said it might take a long time for the BMA to become fully operational, especially given funding constraints. Members asked about the finalisation of the BMA’s implementation protocols and documents, saying it appeared certain government departments were stalling. Members asked for an estimate of the number of travellers expected during the festive period, and asked for clarity on which additional resources are being put in place to prepare for this number of travellers.
The Committee urged the BMA to ensure there is a peaceful and smooth transfer of employees to the BMA, and noted concern about these transfers increasing the public sector’s already-high wage bill. The Committee asked to be provided with the BMA’s Operational Plan, and a detailed breakdown of the entity’s budgetary requirements for when it becomes fully operational. Members said the structure of the BMA looks good on paper, and the Committees were hopeful the desired outcomes would be achieved. Members also asked for clarity on the measures put in place for the upcoming festive season. The joint committee noted the request to lobby for the necessary budgets to be allocated to ensure plans and work of the BMA can be implemented on time and effectively. The joint committee will monitor the processes and preparations outlined by the BMA for the upcoming festive season.
Opening remarks by the Portfolio Committee Chairperson:
Chairperson Chabane said the joint committee would be briefed on progress made regarding the Border Management Authority (BMA), since the enactment of the Border Management Authority Act 2 of 2020. Two new Commissioners have been appointed since the temporary appointment of an Acting Commissioner. The new Commissioners are preparing for the work which lies ahead. He welcomed the new Commissioners of the BMA and extended the condolences of the Portfolio Committee to Ms T Legwase (ANC) and Ms A Ramolobeng (ANC) for family members who passed away.
Opening remarks by the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs
Deputy Minister Njabulo Nzuza noted an apology from the Minister of Home Affairs who had other commitments and was unable to attend this meeting.
The purpose of the meeting was to present the Portfolio and Select Committees with an update on the progress and the operationalisation of the BMA. He said it was a great pleasure to present the progress of an institution which was once only at the concept stage, but is now being operationalised. The authorisation of the BMA has been a very progressive step towards securing the integrity of South African borders, in light of the problem of illegal immigration. There were some elements which were opposite to the operationalisation of the BMA. These included human capital, financing, and the establishment of the BMA’s corporate identity. He urged the Portfolio and Select Committees to support the DHA’s budgetary aspirations, to bring life to this important organ of state which is tasked with fighting illegal immigration.
Briefing by the DHA on the rollout and funding of the BMA
The first item on the agenda was for the Committee to be briefed by the DHA on the rollout plan and funding for the BMA. Dr Nakampe Masiapato, the Commissioner of the BMA, presented the briefing.
Introduction to the briefing:
The purpose of the briefing was to update the Portfolio and Select Committees on the operationalisation of the BMA, especially following the appointment of the BMA’s top leadership. Section 5 of the Border Management Authority Act provides for the legal mandate of the BMA. This entails the mandate to facilitate and manage the legitimate movement of persons and goods within the border law enforcement area and at ports of entry; to co-operate and co-ordinate its border law enforcement functions with other organs of state, such as the South African Police Services (SAPS), the South African Revenue Services (SARS), and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), border communities, or any other persons; and to deal with all kinds of inter-jurisdictional crimes, such as human and wildlife trafficking, movement of counterfeit goods, and illegal border crossings. This mandate makes it critical to operationalise the BMA.
Update on human resources and corporate identity:
A few weeks after the appointment of the new Minister of Finance, Mr Enoch Godongwana, the letter of concurrence was signed which enabled the President to appoint the top leadership of the BMA. On 29 September 2021, Cabinet unanimously endorsed the appointment of the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner for Operations and both started work on 2 November 2021. The Deputy Commissioner, Corporate Services, received her appointment letter on 12 November 2021, and she will resume official duties on 1 December 2021. She continually interacts with the office. Following these appointments, the top leadership of the BMA, working together with the Project Management Office and all other stakeholders, started to fast track the operationalisation of the BMA. These interventions demonstrate the commitment of MECs to fast track the operationalisation of BMA, and also demonstrated the level of support expressed by the Minister of Home Affairs to the BMA.
Regarding the BMA’s interim structure, it is expected the BMA will be incubated within the DHA as one of its branches, until 31 March 2023. During this period, the BMA leadership will work to ensure the Section 97 Proclamation, which deals with the transfer of functions from other government departments, is finalised, and will manage the Transitional Phase of implementation. In addition, the integrated and co-ordinated BMA Model will be piloted. The BMA leadership will also manage the envisaged secondment of personnel from the principal departments and organs of state in the Border Law Enforcement Area and Ports of Entry. Focus will be placed on driving and managing work; listing the BMA as a Schedule 3A National Public Entity, which includes the development of administrative and operational policies and systems to operationalise the entity; ensuring the transfer of personnel, budgets, funds, assets, and liabilities; and the process of negotiations and consultations with organised labour, and matters related to the establishment of the BMA. It is projected the BMA will be listed as a public entity by July 2022, while still incubated by DHA.
Arising from the interim structure, the Public Finance Management Act 1 of 1999 (PFMA) requires the appointment on the following portfolios for the listing of BMA as a Schedule 3A public entity: the Chief Director: Financial Management Services (Chief Finance Officer); the Chief Director: Corporate Services; the Director: Governance, Financial Risk Management and Internal Controls; the Director: Internal Audit; and the Director: Strategy and Policy. To this end, the BMA’s Human Resources work stream is finalising the respective job descriptions for these positions, and then advertisements and the recruitment process will start in early January 2022. In addition to the posts above, the PFMA requires the appointment of key governance committees for the effective functioning of a public entity. This includes the Audit Committee (AC), the Risk Management Committee (RMC), and the Human Resources or Remuneration Committee (REMCO). The appointment process will start in the first quarter of 2022.
Regarding the BMA’s corporate identity, it was reported the entity’s logo was developed with the support of the Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS), and approved in October 2021. Consultations are underway with the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition regarding the registration and protection of the logo. Uniform specifications for the BMA were finalised in June 2021, and the design specifications were shown to the Portfolio and Select Committees alongside the designs for the BMA’s stationery with the entity’s logos. It was also reported the entity bought 15 Land Cruisers.
Update on the finalisation of protocols and proclamations:
Regarding the status of the implementation protocols with the SAPS, SARS, and the SANDF, it was reported Section 27(5) of the Border Management Authority Act requires the entity to conclude mandatory Implementation Protocols with SARS, SAPS, and SANDF, as key border stakeholders external to the integrated entity to be signed by accounting authorities. The Implementation Protocol with SARS was concluded and signed by both the Commissioner of the BMA and the Commissioner of SARS on 19 November 2021.The Implementation Protocol with SAPS is being finalised, and the BMA is expecting to sign the document before the end of the week. The document with SANDF is also being finalised, and will be signed before the end of next week to conclude these matters.
Section 97 of the Constitution provides guidance on the transfer of functions from one organ of state to another, and the required proclamation can only be signed and issued by the President after the finalisation of the concurrence letters from all the affected Ministers. To this end, various proclamations were drafted and sent to SAPS, the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development, and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI). Only the Draft Proclamation with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development has been finalised, and engagements are underway with the other government departments to finalise the document before next week. As for the transfer of the frontline immigration functions and personnel at ports of entry, the Minister of Home Affairs will soon sign a delegation of authority to the Commissioner of the BMA.
Operationalisation of key legislated committees:
Section 25(1) of the Border Management Authority Act establishes the Border Technical Committee, which consists of the Commissioner and the heads of prescribed organs of state. The inaugural meeting of the Border Technical Committee (BTC) was held on 25 August 2021, while the second meeting was held on 18 November 2021. In this transitional period, the BTC fulfils the role of the Project Steering Committee, which is performed within the context of the legislative framework to guide the processes towards the operationalisation of the BMA. It refers strategic challenges to the Inter-Ministerial Consultative Committee. The Terms of Reference for guiding the functioning of the BTC; the BMA’s regulations to operationalise the Border Management Authority Act; the Festive Season National Integrated Operational Plan; and the BTC discussing the finalisation of the Implementation Protocols, and the Section 97 Proclamations, were adopted at previous meetings. In addition, Section 25(4) indicates the BTC shall meet at least once a quarter, but special meetings will be convened during the operationalisation phase.
Section 24(1) of the Border Management Authority Act establishes the Inter-Ministerial Consultative Committee (IMCC), with the Minister of Home Affairs as the Chairperson, alongside other Ministers as members of the IMCC. The IMCC’s inaugural meeting will be held on 26 November 2021. In this transitional period, the IMCC fulfils the role of the Project Sponsor, which is performed within the context of the legislative framework; to act as arbiter in the event of disputes which could not be resolved by the BTC; and to take political and policy decisions relating to the Project in guiding the work of the BTC. The IMCC shall meet to receive reports from the BTC on a quarterly basis, and a number of special meetings will be convened during this operationalisation phase.
Reflecting on the BMA’s current budget and future requirements:
The 2021/22 budget for the BMA amounts to R120 million and excludes the budgets to be transferred to the BMA from other government departments. The entity’s budget from the National Treasury and additional Allocated Funds will increase to R141.52 million in the 2022/23 financial year and R163.35 million in the 2023/24 financial year.
The estimates included in the cost model reflect the budgets for the Compensation of Employees, and Goods and Services to be transferred by principal departments, whose functions are to be transferred to the BMA. However, the realisation of additional budgets would be based entirely on the availability of funds from National Treasury .In terms of the BMA’s blueprint, the estimated expenditure on the Compensation of Employees will amount to R2.97 billion, and Goods and Services will amount to R5.28 billion for the BMA to be fully operational.
The BMA’s preparations for the festive season:
On 18 November 2021, the BTC endorsed the Integrated National Operational Plan on the festive season preparedness, unpacking the three key phases.
The first phase was the planning phase. It commenced on 15 October 2021 and will end on 9 December 2021. The focus of the first phase is on infrastructure requirements, human resource requirements, the consolidation of port of entry-specific operational plans, and briefings and commitment of relevant stakeholders.
The second phase is Execution and it will commence on 10 December 2021, ending on 10 January 2022. It will focus on Implementation of the Approved Operational Plans through the Venue Operational Centre; the deployment of additional infrastructure and human resources; and the deployment of Ministers and Directors-General to support the planned executions.
The third phase will focus on demobilisation and withdrawal from deployment areas and will commence 11 January 2022. It will finish when the project is completed.
This last phase includes the wrapping up of operations, the debriefing of relevant stakeholders on experiences, and lessons learned. In addition, various engagements are underway with various stakeholders, including discussions with South Africa’s immediate neighbouring countries, regarding extension of operating hours and other matters.
The BMA will deploy members of the Immigration Inspectorate at vulnerable segments along the borderline for the festive season. There will also be members of the SANDF, to conduct joint operations in line with the contents of the Integrated Festive Season Operational Plan. The joint operations will focus on border patrol activities in the identified vulnerable areas at the border, mainly to address illegal migration; the illicit movement of goods; and other criminal activities along the borderline.
In addition, plans are at advance stages for the deployment of additional capacity of SANDF reserves at the borderline. The BMA’s leadership is finalising discussions with SANDF Command Council for the secondment of the SANDF reserve force. This will serve as the preparations towards the introduction of the BMA Border Guards along the borderline. Section 13 of the Border Management Authority Act makes provision for the establishment of the BMA Border Guard, which is supposed to be a para-military, armed, and uniformed force. The Border Guards are expected to conduct law enforcement operations at both the ports of entry and the borderline. The discussions between the BMA and SANDF leadership will also cover the areas of joint training, as well as the utilisation of SANDF’s facilities by BMA’s Border Guards. To this end, the BMA is hoping to finalise the Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) between the BMA and SANDF, by no later than end of November 2021. Given the current discussions, it was envisaged to launch BMA’s Border Guards sometime early next year in 2022.
Reflection on key strategic timelines and recommendations:
The last part of the briefing focused on the BMA’s key strategic milestones and accompanying timelines. Based on the discussions the BMA’s leadership had with National Treasury and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), the following are key timelines were agreed upon:
Between now and 31 March 2023, BMA will remain incubated within the DHA as one of the entity’s branches, after which the entity will become independent.
Between 1 January 2022 and May 2022 all key positions will be filled, and the Oversight Committees will be fully constituted and operational.
In June 2022, the BMA will make budget submissions to National Treasury, inclusive of transferred budgets from proclaimed government departments, as discussed.
In July 2022, the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) is to announce the listing of BMA as a Schedule 3A Public Entity.
In October 2022, there will be a reflection on the funding of BMA in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) made by the Minister of Finance.
In February 2023, there will be a clear reflection of the budgetary allocation to the BMA.
On 1 April 2023, the BMA will exit the incubation of the DHA to operate as a standing Schedule 3A public entity, reporting to Minister of Home Affairs.
The following recommendations were made to members of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and the Select Committee on Security and Justice: Members must note the progress made towards the operationalisation of the BMA since the appointment of the entity’s top leadership; Members must support the work of the BMA, moving towards the realisation of an integrated, effective, and efficient border management platform in the country; Members must champion the narration of the BMA, which seeks to discourage any inter-jurisdictional migration through the illegal crossing of the borderline, by encouraging the use of the dedicated ports of entry and the presentation of legal documents on the process, and it addresses all kinds of inter-jurisdictional crimes, such as human and wildlife trafficking, working with other law enforcement agencies in the country. This includes the BMA’s efforts to effectively counter any attempts to move illicit goods and services across the border law enforcement areas; to ensure effective trade facilitation through the smooth movements of legitimate goods and services across our borders, to assist the country’s economic recovery agenda; and to address all forms of corrupt tendencies in the entire border management platform, and with regards to the stakeholders involved. The BMA’s transitional structure was also presented to the Committee, including plans for after the entity’s operationalisation.
Chairperson Chabane thanked the BMA delegation for the progress towards ensuring the entity is operationalised.
Ms A Khanyile (DA) asked if there were any plans to deal with managing traffic congestions, which normally existed at South Africa’s ports of entry. She wanted an update on the current status of progress made with the traffic congestions between South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is important to communicate with the Zimbabwean authorities to ensure issues on the other side of the border are also addressed. The Portfolio Committee noted issues related to incompetence on the other side of the border, during its oversight visit. She asked if the BMA would source its uniforms locally, and appreciated the breakdown of the BMA’s transitional structure; she asked what the envisaged complement of the BMA would be, when fully operationalised; wanted to know what will happen to the DHA’s Immigration branch when the BMA becomes a branch of the DHA; asked if there is a need for a Deputy Director-General of Immigration at the DHA, when a Commissioner of the BMA was appointed and the entity became a branch of the DHA.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said it was good news to hear work is being done. It will take a long time for the BMA to become fully operational, especially given the funding constraints, and this is a cause for concern. She asked if there has been any commitment from National Treasury to allocate the necessary budget of R 8.1 billion to the BMA, given the current economic challenges of the country. The BMA’s briefing reads more like a statement of intent or a wish list, with little indication if the budget would actually be made available to the BMA from National Treasury.
There is a need to engage with the BMA again, closer to the festive period, as there is a need for a more concrete plan on how the entity will clamp down on corruption at the borders of the country. For example, there are reports coming from the Beitbridge port of entry, saying officials prefer people coming without documentation, as it leads to bribes charged by certain officials. There is a need not only to monitor the human resources at the border, but also to put anti-corruption measures in place. She asked for clarity on the envisioned staff complement of the BMA when it is fully operational; what number of border guards would be deployed in 2022; asked for a timeframe on when the BMA expects the R 80 million and other funds to be transferred from the various governmental departments; and wanted an update on the IMCC looking into illegal immigration and how it pertains to the employment of foreign nationals in a variety of sectors. She referred to the recent media outrage regarding a number of women who were murdered by an illegal migrant.
Mr A Roos (DA) asked who was in charge of the South African borders at this point in time, and which entity and officials were accountable for this. Regarding the Section 97 Proclamations, he said it appears some departments are stalling the finalisation of the necessary documents. He asked if there were any issues preventing the finalisation of the Presidential Proclamations, and he wanted to know the extent of these issues. He asked if departments are stalling, expressing hesitation or dissent, or if it was negligence.
Regarding preparations for the festive season, he said it might not be possible to have another meeting with the BMA in December 2021. He asked for an estimate of the number of travellers expected during the festive period, and wanted clarity on the additional resources being put in place to prepare for this number of travellers. He asked about the law enforcement measures which will be put in place to monitor transport routes, and areas towards public facilities along the border.
Regarding the transfer of employees, he said the Border Management Authority Act makes allowance for employees to be transferred from different departments operating at the border. However, this transfer increases the public sector’s Wage Bill. He asked where this increase in funding and operational expenses will come from.
The Border Management Authority Act opens the way for a border-based coast guard, with specific provisions for searching and boarding vessels with BMA officials, within the maritime borders of South Africa. He asked for clarity on plans to acquire vessels patrolling the coastal border; which interactions with other law enforcement agencies there are, operating on the coast; and clarity on the BMA’s monitoring mechanism for illicit trafficking across borders. The relationship between the BMA and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is clear, but there is still a lack of clarity on the BMA’s relationship with the South African Police Servies (SAPS). Section 199 of the Constitution says SAPS is mandated to police and secure the border. He asked for clarity on how the BMA will operate with SAPS, and who will be in charge in this regard.
Mr E Mthethwa (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) said he appreciated the speed and effort the entity has put into the operationalisation of the BMA. It is important to align the new South African system of border management with neighbouring countries. He asked if there are any changes around border management which people need to be aware of before the upcoming holiday season, such as a change in the required documentation. He also asked if there would be any adverse effects on staff members at the borders such as having to take a package, or even resign because of the new structure of the BMA. He wanted to know which discussions dealing with the matter of local staff, were engaged in with trade unions. The BMA’s name and logo does not indicate it is a South African entity, and he found this concerning.
Mr G Michalakis (DA, Free State) referred to the border between South Africa and Lesotho and the environment the border is situated within, with mountains and farms. It makes the Lesotho border particularly difficult to patrol, and a different approach than the approach followed at other borders of the country should be adopted. He asked for clarity regarding if the BMA has any specific plans in place, or allocated additional resources, to make sure the Lesotho border is also controlled and patrolled effectively. The country is struggling with a crippling economy in regards to agriculture. He asked which entity or department would be in charge of patrolling agricultural lands at the border, which matter was being discussed with local stakeholders.
Mr M Tshwaku (EFF) asked the DHA if there was truck traffic at the borders and if so, what the extent of it was. He wanted more clarity on the BMA’s Operational Plan, and asked how increased truck traffic at the border will be dealt with, especially in light of the festive season approaching and the reported problems at Beitbridge border. He also asked for the BMA’s Operational Plan to be provided to the Committee. The BMA is still involved in discussions to finalise the Memorandums of Understanding (MoU’s), and he asked if this will be resolved before the festive season, so people are not inconvenienced when people want to cross the borders to go home. The President said the borders should be open for free trade, and the BMA is essentially an overrated tollgate. He asked which systems are in place to ensure free trade and movement of goods between South Africa and other African countries; and which measures the BMA has put into place to prevent the illegal smuggling of drugs and goods at private airports.
Mr K Pillay (ANC) asked for clarity on the BMA’s staff complement currently, and also when the entity is fully operational. He noted concern about the increase in daily COVID-19 infections, and asked what sort of contingency plans are in place to address this at the borders, especially during the festive period when there is an increase in the amount of people coming through the borders. Small and local businesses were hit the hardest with the COVID-19 pandemic and he asked if the BMA will source the production of its uniforms locally.
Ms T Modise (ANC, North West) commended the progress made towards putting the BMA in place, as this has been in the works for a long time. The structure of the BMA looks good on paper, and the committees are hopeful the desired outcomes will be achieved. There are many challenges the country faces at its borders, and the BMA has been put in place to deal with these issues solemnly and effectively. She hoped the committees would put the proper action plans in place, to deal with how the BMA will implement remedial action and alleviate the effects of the issues at the borders. The festive season is approaching and the BMA might not have a big budget allocation in place, to spend on dealing with seasonal issues such as long queues of people travelling in and out of the country. It is crucial for the BMA to have an effective plan in place in this regard. There are really high expectations of the BMA, and the committees are hopeful the plans on paper will be implemented expeditiously and effectively within the specified timeframes.
Chairperson Shaikh said she was pleased with the progress made so far. The Committees are excited to see the vision and concept of the BMA becoming a reality, despite the negativity from stakeholders when the BMA’s enabling legislation was developed for its establishment. The committees must continue to monitor the finalisation of the protocols and Section 97 Proclamations closely, and ensure the specified timeframes presented are adhered to. The DHA and the BMA must leave no stone unturned in ensuring a smooth transfer of personnel. The committees want a detailed breakdown of the BMA budget requirements, at various stages of implementation.
Chairperson Chabane thanked Members for their contributions and recommendations that were proposed. He thanked the delegation from the BMA for the presentation made to the Committees. One of the areas of caution is that the Committee conducted oversight visits at the Beitbridge and Lebombo ports of entries, and he noted that the Committee was resolved that there would not be any major challenges ahead at the borders except those raised by Members and the relevant stakeholders. It is thus important that the BMA notes and addresses the issues raised by Members.
Responses from the BMA
Dr Nakampe Masiapato, BMA Commissioner, said there is a lot of work to be done to make sure issues of traffic congestion are dealt with. The BMA started engaging with its counterparts in the freight industry, and engagements have also been undertaken regarding the management of road traffic on the actual roads, including engagements with the relevant provincial and local traffic structures. He confirmed the BMA has also been engaging with the joint technical teams of neighbouring countries, particularly on the issues of synchronising the operating dynamics. The move away from accepting cash, towards only accepting electronic payments, has aided in making sure traffic across the borders move smoothly. What will happen to the DHA’s Immigration branch once the BMA becomes a branch of the DHA is an extremely critical question. The BMA is the implementing structure on the ground, while other departments and branches will retain the responsibility of driving the anti-jurisdictional issues and issuing directives. An example of this is the Department of Health issuing the policy setting out that nobody should enter the country without a valid certificate as evidence of not being COVID-19 positive. The BMA, for example, will then have to make sure this directive is implemented on the ground. The establishment of the BMA does not mean all other immigration branches in the respective branches will be unilaterally closed.
Regarding the concerns about the BMA taking too long to exit the incubation within the DHA, he said the plans set for the financial years, and exiting in 2022, would mean the BMA only has a couple of months to be operationalised. As such, the exit is planned for April 2023. This time is necessary to fully capacitate the BMA and adhere to the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The BMA would need the committees to champion for the successful budget allocations required by the entity, together with the money which will be transferred from the relevant government departments.
Regarding corruption, he said the BMA is doing a lot of work towards countering corrupt activities and officials. Recently, eight people have been arrested at the Lebombo port of entry for being involved in corrupt activities. Those arrested included a police officer, and some officials from the DHA. A civilian from Mozambique was also involved. There is work underway to ensure the entity is cleansed from inside, to counter corruption.
The BMA is in a transitional space at the moment. There is still a multi-agency approach being deployed at the border, which means the police are still in charge of the work being done there. The BMA will be in charge of managing the borders once all entities are integrated, and the BMA will work with SAPS, the South African Revenue Services (SARS), and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in the context of the implementation protocols. Regarding the transfer of employees, the BMA has a clear plan to engage with labour organisations, and this includes discussions within the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC), to make sure the transition does not have a negative impact on the staff complement. The issue of the coastguard will be addressed in the long term, as the BMA is currently looking at the ports of entry, the airports, and the borderlines with the intention of patrolling these areas. When the BMA is fully established and operationalised, the entity will move into the coastal area. The SANDF’s navy counterparts are currently in charge of the country’s coastlines. The BMA will ensure all the issues at the borders are addressed.
Regarding aligning the entity’s work with its counterparts in the neighbouring countries of South Africa, he said there are three things which are crucial to the effective management of the border lines. The first thing is to agree a multi-agency approach on border management has been unsuccessful and the approach which must be followed is one of integration and consolidation, such as through the BMA. The second issue relates to investing in the necessary infrastructure to ensure the BMA is adequately capacitated to do its job. Lastly, it is important to put all these issues on the table, and address the issues people experience difficulties with at the borders. For staff to come through, and into the BMA, the staff must have a positive security clearance, and if such clearance cannot be produced, the staff member will remain within the department in question. There is no way the BMA can enrol a person with a negative security finding against the person, and this is clearly provided for in the law.
The BMA will be recognised as a South African entity, since the logo will be accompanied by the nation’s flag.
Regarding the issues on the Lesotho border, he said unmanned aerial vehicles will be used, and this is why it is important to ensure the BMA is equipped with the necessary tools of the trade to monitor the more difficult areas. The BMA’s Joint Technical Committees (JTC) are in the works, and the BMA is participating in fairly bilateral interfaces with South Africa’s neighbouring countries in addressing the issues. The BMA’s intention is to properly regulate, and keep the border environment clean.
There is drug trafficking across South Africa’s borders, and this is a serious issue the BMA will have to address to counter illegal activities. The BMA’s Operational Plan is quite detailed and the BMA must account to the committees again, regarding the progress on the implementation of the issues raised. This must be done in the upcoming year.
The mandate of the BMA is not to block people who need to enter the country. The intention is rather to show these people where the ports of entry are and what is required to gain entry, regardless if the people are Africans or not. There needs to be a focus on airports learning how to ensure no goods or persons are smuggled in and out of the country.
Regarding the rising number of COVID-19 infections, he said the BMA is having discussions with its colleagues from Port Health and the Department of Health. The objective is to work on the issues and plans around the availability of Port Health officials during the BMA’s transitional period.
Regarding the sourcing of the BMA’s uniforms, he said there is a transversal contract which exists within the DHA and with National Treasury, and is being used by other organs of state. The BMA will also be moving into the space of sourcing its uniforms. There is a commitment to ensure all the BMA plans are implemented, and do not fade away when it comes to the execution phase.
Major-General David Chilembe, BMA Deputy Commissioner, said the Commissioner addressed most of the problematic issues in the border environment.
Regarding the preparations for the festive season, he said there are various factors which should be planned for, and some unexpected factors which will arise. Some neighbouring countries make unilateral decisions without informing the South African border authorities, such as making truck drivers pay in cash instead of electronically. Another factor is the provision of infrastructure and water for travellers waiting to cross the borders. The DHA has to pay overtime to staff working through the festive season.
Traffic management and the issue of crime around the borders are a major issue which the BMA has to deal with. The entity identified various Provincial Joint Committees (PJC’S) to engage with and determine recommendations which address challenges at the various ports of entry. The BMA is engaging with various stakeholders regarding vehicles going through ports, which have either been stolen or are reported stolen when the vehicle left the country in which it has been financed in. This involves engagements with the relevant banks and financial institutions regarding financed vehicles.
The BMA is also engaging with customers and the Department of Transport regarding the registration and investigation of vehicles not allowed in the country. The entity works hard to ensure there is no traffic at the borders, and is engaging with the traffic industry in this regard.
Regarding the movement of people across the border, he said the COVID-19 pandemic has limited which borders can be crossed by people, depending on the lockdown levels and the restrictions placed on movement by the countries neighbouring South Africa, especially during the festive period.
Responses from the DHA
Mr Makhode (DG) said sourcing material and manufacturing uniforms will be done locally, in line with the requirements of the transversal contract. There are continuous engagements with the DHA and the BMA’s counterparts in neighbouring countries, especially when dealing with the congestion at the border.
On 13 November 2021, the IMCC, through the Department of Employment and Labour, and the DHA tabled the National Labour Migration Policy to Cabinet. It will deal with issues related to illegal migration and activities regarding quotas. The DHA was asked to conduct further consultations to ensure alignment with the Critical Skills List and National Economic Development and Labour Council’s (NEDLAC’s) report, which was received in the previous week. Further consultations were required with small businesses to ensure the policy is complementary in all respects.
The Deputy Minister of the DHA said the issue of congestion around the border was raised by multiple committee members. The congestion at the ports of entry were mainly caused by cargo moving through the border. This is because of a lack of advancement in technology of trading partners, in other countries. These trading partners are still using manual systems to process customs. This means the congestion is largely a customs-related issue. When cargo is stuck on the South African side of the border, the authorities are able to process the movement of goods fast, with the assistance of SARS and its advanced systems. However, the DHA is engaging with neighbouring countries which South Africa trades with, on this issue and on the issue of charging tariffs, which does not align with free trade agreements in Africa.
The DHA’s Immigration branch deals with a variety of issues, including illegal immigrants in the country. The Inspectorate remains important, even with the establishment of the BMA. The branch also deals with other issues such as legislation, advocacy, and operationalisation. He noted the importance of not expecting the BMA to be fully operational overnight. When an organisation like this is built, it will come into effect in blocks. It is important to lay a good foundation which takes into consideration the relevant legislative and practical requirements for managing the borders of our countries effectively. The DHA is facilitating joint operations with the Department of Employment and Labour regarding the policies in place to make sure South Africa does not become a free trial for illegal immigration to be employed. It will also ensure controls are tightened, so employers who transgress immigration and employment laws will pay heavy fines. This is aimed at preventing employers from hiring illegal immigrants.
The DHA will consolidate the relevant reports and present it to the Portfolio Committee, if required to do so.
The DHA has a strict counter-corruption branch to ensure those who break the rules are held accountable. Progress is being made regarding arrests, and BMA agents will continue not to tolerate any situation where the entities’ own staff members compromise the sovereign integrity of the country. He said any other questions would be replied to in writing, if necessary.
Chairperson Chabane thanked the delegation from the BMA and the DHA for the detailed responses, and for instilling the public’s confidence in the establishment and operationalisation of the BMA. The joint committee noted the request to lobby for the necessary budgets to be allocated, to ensure the plans and work of the BMA can be implemented on time, and effectively. The joint committee will also monitor the processes and preparations outlined by the BMA for the upcoming festive season, and commended the progress made by the BMA thus far, encouraging the entity to keep up the hard work to ensure the country’s borders are effectively managed.
Chairperson Shaikh also thanked the delegation for the briefing. She appreciated the significant progress made since the enactment of the Border Management Authority Act. The progress towards the appointment of the BMA is appreciated as well as the work made towards finalising the implementation protocols, and the Section 97 Proclamations. She encouraged the DHA and the BMA to keep up the good work and to fast-track the operationalisation of the BMA. The BMA asked members to support the BMA’s work, for realisation of an integrated, effective, and efficient border management platform in the country. The joint committee would like to see an improvement in the functioning of the South African border posts in the future, to reduce crime and corruption activities, as well as to improve infrastructure. She thanked the delegations for the responses to the questions and concerns of the Committees.
Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs 2021/22 Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report
Mr Adam Salmon, Committee Content Advisor, presented the BRRR to the Portfolio Committee with the additions and amendments indicated by Members during the previous meeting. He focused on the Electoral Commission (IEC), DHA, and the Government Printing Works (GPW).
Chairperson Chabane referred to item 6.2.19 of the BRRR, which states the GPW’s management must account for how it addressed the issues leading to extensive delays in its financial statements and contesting its audit findings from the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) several times. He referred to the GPW’s Annual Report on this matter and said there was a contribution from the GPW on how the entity is mitigating the loss of data. As such, the Committee cannot request it to account for this issue when it has already done so, as well as explained the mitigating measures which have been put into place.
The work done by the Committee should be reflected in the BRRR and the recommendations made.
Regarding the IEC, he said the Committee should be more specific regarding the entity’s irregular expenditure, which has already been explained by the entity in earlier engagements with the Committee. It is important to see the progress made and the work completed by the Committee reflected in the BRRR.
Regarding item 6.2.32, there needs to be more specific information to ensure the work done by the IEC is recognised, specifically with reference to the measures and performance reported to the Committee. The Report and briefing from the BMA which the Committee received, must also be reflected in the BRRR. Who will be reading the BRRR is also important, and it is important to highlight progress made and weaknesses which must be addressed by the relevant entities.
Mr Roos proposed amending the wording of item 6.2.12 to say the network connectivity issues should be resolved within the 24-month target, as per the DHA’s 2019/20 Annual Report. He noted concern about item 6.2.18, which deals with the GPW, and said the entity has already reported on the loss of financial data and the delays in submitting its financial statements. He proposed the original words from the previous item 6.2.18 should stand, so the entity can report back on its adverse audit findings, instead of only accounting for how the entity addressed it. It should say the GPW should be held accountable for the extensive delays in its financial statements due to contesting its audit findings from the AGSA.
Chairperson Chabane said the Minister of the DHA accepted the request to investigate the financial loss of the data, and delays in the financial statements of the GPW. The Minister of the DHA must come back and report on the outcome of the investigation into this issue. This is a way of holding the GPW accountable for the issues at play, and the Committee can then rely on the Report from the Minister of the DHA in this regard, based on the investigation of the appointed Task Team.
Mr Roos said this presents a challenge because of the delays in the financial statements, and different sets of financial statements have been presented by the entities. The appointed Task Team will look at the current set of financial statements, but the previous set of financial statements should be included.
Mr Tshwaku said the Committee did an oversight visit at the GPW, and he asked if this Report was submitted to the Committee. There were many issues which emanated from the oversight visit, such as the engagements between the staff and the management.
Regarding the IEC, he referred to the problems with the network and Voting Management Devices (VMD’s), and asked how this will be improved. The IEC failed dismally in getting its systems to work properly. He referred to item 6.2.34 of the BRR and asked how the entity will ensure people are able to register and the online system is working. Similar problems in the upcoming 2024 elections must be avoided. Registration, voter participation, and education must be improved.
Chairperson Chabane said the Committee wants to be briefed with a comprehensive report on the 2021 local government elections, and said the delegations from the IEC gave explanations regarding the challenges experienced. He agreed with the contribution from Mr Tshwaku about a need for the IEC to tighten its system to ensure challenges are not repeated during the upcoming 2024 elections.
Ms Khanyile emphasised the need for the IEC to brief the Committee with a thorough and comprehensive report on the 2021 local government elections early in the upcoming year. The briefing must include the issue of people voting outside of wards or districts.
Mr Pillay said the items regarding the IEC should be cleaned up. He referred to item 6.2.30 and said it should be separated into two issues, namely, the people who registered but were not allowed to vote, and the issue of people in the same households voting at different voting stations. The challenge of special votes should also be included in the Committee’s recommendations, and the issue of registered and approved special votes for which house visits were not conducted, as this speaks directly to the issue of the election being free and fair or not. The lower voter turnout should also be noted, and the recommendations regarding the IEC should be more specific, and recognise the unique situation of the elections being held during the COVID-19 pandemic. The recommendations should not all be clustered together, and the issues of using incorrect ballot papers should stand alone as a recommendation, to not lessen its impact.
Chairperson Chabane said the Committee is not dealing with the report on the 2021 local government elections, but rather the entities’ Annual Reports, which were considered. Observations on the recent elections should be made after the IEC furnishes a detailed report. These recommendations and observations should be excluded until the Committee has more details.
The Committee duly adopted the BRRR with the amendments.
Briefing by the Content Advisor on the Committee’s Resolution Tracking Mechanism
The last item on the agenda was for the Content Advisor to brief the Portfolio Committee on the Committee’s Resolution Tracking Mechanism.
Chairperson Chabane said the Committee’s Resolution Tracking Mechanism for the Committee’s outstanding matters should be sent to Committee Members, including timelines which were not adhered to by the relevant entities. The Committee received correspondence from the Minister of the DHA on the issue of electoral reform, and said the process will go to Cabinet the next day. The Minister of the DHA will brief the Committee. Members raised issues about the services rendered and asked the Committee Secretariat to communicate with the entities to resolve these issues, as raised by the Committee. The Committee’s Resolution Tracking Mechanism should reflect this as well.
The meeting was adjourned.
Chabane, Mr MS
Shaikh, Ms S
Bartlett, Ms M
Dodovu, Mr TSC
Khanyile, Ms AT
Legwase, Ms TI
Michalakis, Mr G
Modise, Ms M
Motsamai, Mr K
Mthethwa, Mr EM
Nzuza, Mr NB
Pillay, Mr KB
Roos, Mr AC
Sileku, Mr IM
Tito, Ms LF
Tshwaku, Mr M
Zandamela, Mr S
van der Merwe, Ms LL
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